Acclimatizing to Namche and Trump
We loved Namche, but our rest day there was soured by the gut punch of Trump’s election… with the time change we knew he’d lost Florida and North Carolina by 7AM Wednesday 11/9, and by the time we left the Comfort Inn teahouse Hillary’s and our hopes were dashed. We had the good fortune to be backpacking in Yellowstone on 9/11, and we’re glad to be removed from constant connections and the 24 hour news cycle now.
Nature is a fine elixir for society’s ills, so we were glad to hike Namche’s steeps and enjoy full eastern views of Everest, Lhotse and the lower but more formidable Ama Dablam summit. Namche is a natural amphitheater, facing west across the Bhote Kosi valley to the razor ridge of Kongde Ri. It’s an unashamedly commercial town, but still charming with handsome wood and stone structures, cobblestones streets and a new stone creek channel powering several water-driven prayer wheels.
We hiked up to the Sagamartha National Park Vistor’s Center and it’s Sherpa museum, then the boys led us on a traverse across the amphitheater slopes to the heliocopter pad, where we met an amiable tour operator hosting a half dozen Burmese dignitaries awaiting their helicopter. Descending past the monastery we parked the boys at Everest bakery and poached weak wifi for an hour or two before returning to the Comfort Inn and gloomy confirmation of a Trump win.
Namche to Tengboche
Whooeee – tough Thursday. It started with a steep climb out of Namche to a fine, flat traverse on a broad stretch of trail which drifts down to Lawichasa and fantastic views of Ama Dablam. Then the descent gets steep as we drop down the ravine to Phunki Thenga (yes the boys had fun with that name). We lunched there then started our very steep 2.5 hour climb to Tengboche… the altitude weighs on us now.
Tengboche down to Namche Bazaar
The Tengboche lodge was a well designed, with room views facing Everest & Lhotse, a solar hall with clothes drying line and rooms sunk into the earth to provide some geothermal warmth. Most visitors preferred the cloistered, dark but warm eating area in the ramshackle portion of the Lodge; we favored the Bakery’s big, colorful, open but cold dining area. Here the boys lost their “youngest trekker” mantle to a 8-10 year old brother-sister team, on their way to Everest Base Camp. A quick chat with the family showed we had much in common – they live near my hometown of Campbell, CA, are taking a year off to tour the world with kids, and can’t believe Trump won.
Sleeping in Tengboche Thursday night proved tough… we have to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated but that leads to interrupted sleep and nighttime trips to a filthy, dark and cold shared bathroom. Sue had a rough night, recovering from a bout of altitude sickness and too many such “wee hour” trips. Same for Ben. I woke early but stayed cozy, coccooned in my thermals, down sweater, sleepsack, bag and blanket… slogging my way through The Orphan Masters Son to pass the dark hours.